Abstract

Incompleteness in the reporting of illegitimate births in the U.S. vital registration system due to the consistent nonparticipation of a number of large States has left data published by the National Center for Health Statistics open to considerable criticism. Utilizing retrospective marriage and fertility data from the June 1978 Current Population Survey, a national probability sample of 54,000 interviewed households, a time series on teenage illegitimacy for first births is constructed that permits an evaluation of similar Vital Statistics data on teenage illegitimacy since the 1940s. Although there are some indications of a slight underreporting of white illegitimate first births by Vital Statistics during the 1940s and early 1950s, the overall comparison produces a general consensus between the two data sources on the incidence of illegitimacy among both white and nonwhite teenagers for the period 1940–44 to 1970–74.

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